Falling on a Defective Sidewalk and Suffering a personal injury from tripping and falling on uneven pavement can result in filing a lawsuit against a negligent party. Every day people get from one place to another on the sidewalk. Whether for health reasons, commuting or spending time around town, the sidewalk is a vital means of transportation. The last thing you want, or expect, is to fall because of a defect in a sidewalk.
Some common defects:
> Tree roots lift or distort the pavement
> Slabs can sink or heave upward, leaving the surface uneven
> Old concrete can crumble leaving holes and gaps
> A sidewalk accident is a type of slip and fall accident. They can cause severe injuries, such as fractured ankles or elbows, knee injury, or even a sprain from twisting as you fall to the ground.
If fall on a damaged sidewalk, what should you do?
1. Was the accident the result of someone else's negligence?
Generally, The owner of a sidewalk is responsible for protecting users of the sidewalk from risks they know of, or should know of. For example, if a tree root has broken through and damaged the concrete, and the owner knows about it, he has a duty to remove the hazard or warn sidewalk users. However, if someone spills oil on the sidewalk without telling the property owner, and an innocent passerby slips in it, the owner has a defense to any claim that he was negligent.
What if the property owner caused the hazard or knew about it? For example, if the owner installed a new concrete slab, but at a different height than the adjacent one, the owner has created a tripping hazard. Or if someone spilled oil on the sidewalk, and told the owner, but the owner did nothing, then in these cases the property owner could be held liable for your injuries.
2. What defenses can the property owner use?
One main defense is that the injured person failed to exercise ordinary care. In other words s/he did not watch where s/he was going and was not paying attention. If s/he was paying attention, the argument goes, the accident would not have happened. For example, if you trip on a curb which is in good repair, if you are texting, or otherwise not looking where you are going, then the owner can successfully argue that you are partially to blame for the accident.
Another defense is the open and obvious doctrine. In other words, the defect which caused the accident was so large, or obvious that anyone who was paying attention, would have seen it. The classic example is a gaping hole in the pavement, so large that anyone paying attention would have seen it.
The laws around Falling on a Defective Sidewalk and slip and fall; accidents are complex and property owners will use any defense possible to avoid paying for your injuries. Make sure you have expert legal counsel to ensure you get a fair settlement.
Feel free to call for an appointment or a phone conference at no charge.